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Impact Fee Study

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S.E. Thurston Fire Authority Impact Fees

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners adopted Fire and Emergency Services Growth Management Impact Fees for certain types of new construction permits within S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s jurisdiction on January 23, 2018. The Fees are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2018.

The S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s Board of Fire Commissioners requested the county collect the fees on their behalf. The county adopted amendments to the impact fee code in September 2016, April 2017 and January 2018. The authority to collect impact fees for fire districts and authorities was added with these amendments.

Since then, the County has reviewed the full impact fee request from S.E. Thurston Fire Authority and has agreed to collect fees on their behalf.

The fire services impact fees are based on the square footage of the proposed building.  The fee rate is $0.36 per square foot.  The fee amount is based on S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s Impact Fee Rate Study and on their Capital Facilities Plan.

Impact fees will be assessed at the time a completed building application is submitted to the Thurston County Permit Assistance Center.  Impact Fees are generally collected at time of Building Permit issuance. 

To see the adopted impact fee schedule amendment, please click here.

To see a map of S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s jurisdiction where the fee would apply, please click here.

To go to S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s website for more information on their operations, please click here.

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority has been working with Thurston County on the development of their impact fee and exceptions to fee payment. The exceptions would include:

  • Single-family homes with residential fire sprinklers
  • Ag-exempt structures up to 775 square feet
  • Structures not requiring permits
  • Bulkheads
  • Retaining Walls
  • Stair Towers
  • Ground based solar panels
  • Structures which are not frequently used such as: docks, walking surfaces such as porches and decks
  • Any addition to current structures which is less than 500 square feet
  • Residential structures with a residential sprinkler system

Recent Activity

The Washington State Legislature passed  Engrossed Senate Bill (ESB) 5923 was on May 11, 2015, and amended Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 82.02.050 to require counties collecting impact fees under Ch.36.70A RCW to adopt and maintain a program deferring the collection of impact fees on single-family detached and attached residential construction for a period not to exceed 18-months for the first 20 homes (or more, if allowed by the County), with the condition that the applicant, if they choose to participate, must record a “deferred impact fee lien against the property” in favor of the County. The legislation also requires that the County keep an accurate record of any and all deferrals, and that these provisions be in place by September 1, 2016. In addition, the proposed amendments include adding language allowing for the collection of impact fees on behalf of Fire Districts that serve rural Thurston County.

Thurston County Commissioners have approved changes to the Thurston County Code for voluntary deferment of impact fees until final building inspection, for the first 20 applications for single-family residences per contractors license.

For more detailed information about approved Ordinance No. 15340 amending Title-25 Impact Fees, and to view the full text of the approved ordinance, Please click the link to the right on your screen under ‘News and Links’.

2016 Impact Fee Schedule

The 2015 Impact Fee Schedule has been amended to reflect changes in the capital facilities planning for school districts and for construction costs.


Impact fees are a type of one-time charge developers pay to help finance their proportionate share of the cost of the roads, parks, schools and other facilities necessary to serve their new developments. Impact fees are usually due at the time a building permit is issued. The funds collected cannot be used for operation, maintenance, repair, alteration, or replacement of existing capital facilities and cannot just be added to general revenue. The amount of the fee must be clearly linked to the added service cost, not some arbitrary amount.

Thurston County Impact Fees

On December 11, 2012, the Board of County Commissioners passed Ordinance No. 14819 adopting the Thurston County Impact Fee Ordinance into the Thurston County Code as Title 25.  Impact fees will begin on April 2, 2013.

The impact fee schedule for parks and transportation was adopted on December 11, 2012 with Resolution No. 14820.

School District Impact Fees

Thurston County has interlocal agreements to collect impact fees for the Olympia, Rochester, Tumwater, and Yelm School Districts.

  • To see a map of the School Districts and their associated impact fee schedule, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Olympia School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Rochester School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Tumwater School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Yelm School District, click here.

Transportation Impact Fees

Transportation impact fees are collected in unincorporated Thurston County.  Impact fees are based on the proposed use and the  location of the project in the County.  The County is divided into six service areas.

  • To see a map of Transportation Impact Fee Transportation Service Areas, and the associated impact fee schedule, click here.

Impact Fees and the Growth Management Act

The Revised Code of Washington 82.02.050 (2) authorizes counties required to plan under the Growth Management Act to "impose impact fees on development activity as part of the financing for public facilities..."  GMA impact fees are only authorized for: public streets and roads; publicly owned parks, open space, and recreation facilities; school facilities; and fire protection facilities in jurisdictions that are not part of a fire district. Setting fee schedules for impact fees is a complex process typically involving rate studies.

Impact Fee Study in Thurston County

To determine the feasibility of establishing GMA Impact Fees, Thurston County commissioned an Impact Fee study to determine development/growth related cost to construct transportation, parks and school infrastructure. The consultant reviewed county and school capital facilities plans; proposed services areas and proposed fees for each transportation, park and school district service area. Proposed school impact fees are based on the school’s capital facilities plan. The consultant has met with the Olympia Master Builders, School and Fire Districts to hear their issues and recommendations and presented their feedback into discussions with the Board of County Commissioners. At this time, a draft impact fee ordinance is ready for public testimony. The following goals were used to develop the proposed impact fee system:

1.  equitably recovers the cost of county transportation, recreation, schools and fire protection improvements as a result of new development;

2.  is less of an administrative burden to Thurston County, school districts, fire protection and the development community than the current SEPA mitigation process; and

3.  provides the timely and equitable financing of public services and improvements to mitigate and prevent impacts from new development.

The collection of fees to fund public infrastructure is not new to Thurston County. The county has been collecting SEPA impact fees for the last twenty years. The primary differences between SEPA and GMA impact fees are:

  • SEPA fees are negotiated between the developer and, public works department, school district and county for each project
  • GMA fees are established on a service area basis given the cost to construct transportation, park and school projects within the service area
  • SEPA fees are typically used to fund specific improvements in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development
  • GMA fees are used to fund improvements on the system within a service area
  • Smaller developments are exempt from SEPA mitigation fees, thus cumulative impacts from several small developments lead to impacts that are not funded by new development and must be funded from other sources such as property taxes or bonds and levies
  • GMA fees can be collected from all new residential and commercial development regardless of size


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